by Adam Kaiser
Recently discussion on the issue of gay marriage, or better stated marriage equality, has been prevalent in the news. From President Obama’s recent remarks in support of marriage equality, to the viral video released by Shane Crone titled “It Can Happen to You,” the topic of marriage equality has been thrust into the court of public opinion more than it ever has before. The issue will prove to be a hot topic in the upcoming election among candidates seeking the oval office.
Almost everyone knows someone affected by marriage inequality- denied the right to a marriage based on the partner he/she chooses to love. The love same sex couples share is no less powerful or meaningful than what is shared between heterosexual couples, yet the government tells same sex couples their love is less meaningful by preventing them from getting married.
In the video “It Can Happen to You,” Shane shares his heart wrenching story of losing his partner. Shane describes how many of his rights were taken away after his partner’s death because he and his partner were unable to become legally married. Stories like this demonstrate the need for reform in marriage policy. The government is telling same sex couples that they are second class citizens by denying these couples the right to show their love and commitment in the same way as heterosexual couples.
Relatedly, equal rights are denied to gay individuals who experience sexual violence within their intimate relationship. State statutes that recognize and define marital rape only protect those that are legally married and are not accessible to same sex victims. Sexual assault in the GLBT community is highly under-reported. Because of the lack of recognition of victims and the resulting lack of victim services, many members of the GLBT community feel that they have nowhere to go when they are assaulted. By legitimizing gay relationships through marriage equality, equal protection could be provided under law ensuring that same victims receive the same rights and services as their heterosexual counterparts.
Any patriot can agree that this issue is critical in a country that was founded on freedom and equality. It is time that America allows all citizens to express their love freely, equally, and enthusiastically. There is an issue with the way marriage is currently defined and it is time for this definition to be changed. It is everyone’s responsibility, straight or gay, to stand up for what is fair and right and demand marriage equality for everyone. We all need to ask ourselves this: In forty years, as we look back on this time in our lives, do we want to have stood for equality, freedom and justice or do we want to have stood for oppression?